Rouse has been a perennial playoff team the last few years, so when the preseason polls predicted that streak to end this year, the Lady Raiders proved them wrong.
The Lady Raiders’ season came to an end Monday night at Round Rock High School, falling 35-30 to East View in the first round of the playoffs.
“We only had four girls that had any variety experience and they really stepped up this year and played with a lot of heart,” Rouse head coach Lori McDonald said. “I’m super proud of these girls and what they were able to accomplish.”
McDonald said senior leadership got Rouse to the playoffs, and it was a trio of seniors that led the team in scoring on Monday. Kania Jackson led the Lady Raiders with eight points while Chloe Austin and Bonnie Nelon each scored six points.
Rouse ended the regular season on a good streak with wins in four of the final five games, the lone loss coming by just two points against state-ranked Cedar Park.
On Monday, East View’s frustrating zone combined with the Lady Patriots’ size and ability to rebound stifled the Rouse offense, which was held to about 20 points below its season average.
“They kept our shooters from getting many good shots off,” McDonald said. “We’ve been shooting well of late and we had trouble getting anything going inside and outside tonight. Part of that is a credit to East View’s defense.”
East View dominated the boards and Rouse turned the ball over quite a bit in the first half. The Lady Raiders trailed by just one point after the first quarter, but the Lady Patriots went on a 4-0 run early in the second and led by three at halftime. Jackson scored six points in the first half for Rouse.
East View came out in the third quarter on an 8-0 run to push its lead to double digits. But a steal by Jackson led to an open 3-pointer by freshman Avonnie Justice to give Rouse some momentum headed into the final quarter.
Rouse outscored East View 12-7 in the final period, but it was too little, too late for the Lady Raiders.
“We have to get more movement inside,” McDonald said. “They had a lot of height, so we struggled with taking it inside and getting our shots blocked. We needed to step up our midrange game and just didn’t.”
For seniors Austin, Madyson Shelley and Anna Armstrong, they leave after helping the Lady Raiders advance to the regional tournament just two seasons ago, while Jackson and Nelon were part of the team that made it to the second round last year.
But freshmen and sophomores played in big roles both Monday night and throughout the district season.
The future is bright.
“We had two freshmen on the court in huge games in district,” McDonald said. “You’ve got the underclassmen and two juniors that got major minutes this year, so it gets us playoff experience for a young team that we can hopefully take into the future.”